Budget agreement remains elusive at Capitol; special session possible

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We’ll soon find out if Gov. Tim Walz meant what he’s said repeatedly about having no interest in calling a special session. There is agreement on a $4 billion tax bill, but few agreements on $4 billion in spending on education, health and human services, public safety and other areas.

By early afternoon Sunday, legislative leaders finally publicly acknowledged a broad budget agreement won’t happen by the midnight deadline to pass bills.

“We cannot process the work at this point,” DFL Senate Minority Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen told reporters. “You all know that.”

But she did leave open the possibility of a special session to complete the work if agreements are worked out Sunday night. “If we can do the work and agree to everything before midnight tonight, possibly.”

But Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller stopped just short of flatly saying no to a special session.

“We want to get our work done today,” he said. “We’re not interested in a special session.”

Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt echoed those comments.

“I’m not optimistic about things coming together in a special session, so I think I see the long faces and hear in their voices that things are probably not getting done on time,” Daudt said.

Amidst all the disagreements, there was one thing everyone agreed on: Sen. Dave Tomassoni, who is battling ALS, received a bipartisan standing ovation after giving a retirement speech on the Senate floor.

“Thank you for accommodating me today as well as all session long,” he said through an electronic speaking device because he can no longer use his voice. “Thirty years went by fast, and I wish my successor all the best. Thank you very much.”

Lawmakers will continue working on reaching agreements, but it’s still unclear by early evening whether Gov. Walz is even willing to call a special session.